Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting Program (MECSH)
Last updated: 2013
Theoretical approachThe MECSH model expands traditional postpartum care by providing home visiting services during and after pregnancy that are designed to enhance maternal and child outcomes. Based on an ecological framework, MECSH addresses issues at the individual, family, and community levels that affect the health and well-being of families and children. The child-focused, health-promoting prevention model supports families using an individualized and strengths-based approach. The model strives to establish a sustained, trusting partnership between the family and the home visitor. To achieve the child’s and family’s potential, the home visitor supports the development of the family’s abilities to adapt and self-manage. MECSH also builds the skills of medical practitioners and the capacity of the health services system to promote positive outcomes in the broader community.
MECSH provides individualized, home-based services focusing on parent education, maternal health and well-being, family relationships, and goal setting. MECSH includes a set of core elements—the MECSH core curriculum and Learning to Communicate curriculum—that agencies must implement. A series of modules using evidence-based curricula, called focus modules, may be added to the core model. The implementing agencies and developer work together to select focus modules to address local needs.
The nurse home visitors implement the Learning to Communicate curriculum when the child is one month old. The curriculum is designed to foster children’s development and is delivered monthly for 12 months. Home visitors also support families on issues such as housing and finances. Home visitors receive support from and refer families to practitioners within the maternal, child, and family health services system, as necessary.
In addition to home visiting, MECSH provides group activities such as parenting groups and links families to events within the community.
The model serves parents with children younger than age 2 years who are at risk of adverse parental and/or child health and development outcomes. Eligible clients are pregnant women (of any maternal age and with any number of children) or parents/caregivers of any gender who (1) have newborns up to eight weeks post-discharge from the hospital; (2) demonstrate psycho-, socio-, demographic, and/or health characteristics that place the child at risk of poor health and development; and (3) lack the ability to adapt and self-manage.
To determine eligibility, parents are assessed for the following risk factors: lack of support, history of mental illness or childhood abuse, depression, anxiety, life stressors, history of domestic violence, or alcohol or drug use in the home.
Where to find out more
Distinguished Professor Lynn Kemp, Ph.D.
Centre for Translational Research and Social Innovation School of Nursing and Midwifery
Western Sydney University
1 Campbell Street
Liverpool, NSW 2170